It's taken me until I'm sat the airport with ticket in hand to realise that I have fallen in love.
Remove all the westerners/western influence and Bali, the 'Island of the Gods' is a place of profound healing and spirituality. The welcome from the locals of Bali and the small island of Lembongan I have not found anywhere else in the world. Without asking anything of you, their 'hello!'s are a welcome change to the glares of India. Unfortunately I spent too long in the touristy village of Ubud, should've trusted my gut instincts and left for the coast as soon as the conference was over. But nevermind.
I spent a few days in Canggu at the coast after I dragged by soaking wet self out of the monsoons of Ubud. I found a travelling ashtanga teacher, Nick Evans, from Cardiff of all places and spent a few mornings practicing with him. Ah, what I great teacher and he reminded me so much of my teachers back home which felt nice and comforting at a time when I felt a little lost. Like Manu back home, Nick is very much the 'you must try every posture' kind of teacher, reminding me of how easy it is to fall into the bad habits - using posture variations well beyond when you should be - leaving out postures because this or that was/is injured - leaving out postures cos you just don't like them! So I've started the lotus positions again as the knees appear miraculously to have healed without me noticing! (Nick says Bali has the ability to heal the body and his practice is so great there) and I'm doing all the postures in primary again, including setu bandhasana. Nick says not to avoid the postures you don't like to do because 'that's where the yoga is. Baby steps - there's no rush, just a couple of breaths in the posture then build from there day by day'. 'Nuff said. Wise words.
So I'm taking that advice and the teachings of the Conference and Therese and I'm implementing them in my practice back in Mysore. I arrived early morning on Thursday after a hair-raising taxi ride from Bangalore, where I was thrown off the back seat numerous times whilst trying to sleep, so now I'm covered in bruises! It was just 4:15am when I reached Mysore so got the taxi driver to drop me outside the shala where I waited until class at 5:15. Yep...5:15 is my new start time! I'm actually loving the earlier class, I can't put my finger on why, but it feels better getting up that bit earlier to practice. Maybe there's something in practicing before dawn after all. Bali has definitely done something to me. I'm a lot less stiff now, my hips feel more open and my knee pain has gone. I've even taken to practicing on just my travel mat which is dead thin, gone is the need for extra padding! I feel more aligned inside and out and my focus is a lot more concentrated. Given the new found concentration and flexibility I am actually looking forward to getting back on second series tomorrow to try to conquer eka pada sirsasana. :)